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“ Very, very little farther; and you will certainly find greater protection from the rain.”
Lady Grey, as usual, assented. But now the distant thunder could distinctly be heard, and the rain did indeed descend in torrents. They had hardly proceeded half-way, before a terrific clap of thunder broke over their heads, accompanied by a vivid flash of lightning, alarming Lady Grey exceedingly.
“ This is most provoking on your account, Edith,” said his lordship, as he felt her arm tremble in his, and saw that it was with difficulty she could proceed. “ Who could have foreseen such a storm ? You are tired, too, love. I see nothing for it, however, but to make our way on as fast as we can, and make the best of it.”
And so did poor Lady Grey make the best of it. But, when she reached the Castle, what with fatigue and fright, she fainted, and was carried to her room, where it was some time before the efforts of her attached maid, Norris, to restore her to herself, were crowned with
any success. “Alas, alas !” thought the faithful creature to herself, "if her ladyship had only attended to my words, she never would have gone out to-day!"
On reviving, Lady Grey desired Miss Edith might be brought to her to wish her good-night; being unable, as was her wont, to pay her little girl her accustomed visit in the nursery.
Nurse was much struck, on entering Lady Grey's
dressing-room with Miss Edith, in obedience to her ladyship’s summons, with the extreme paleness and fatigue depicted in her countenance, and, whilst desiring her to wait, it appeared to her that she seemed unusually anxious to detain little Edith with her. How little did nurse know all that was passing in Lady Grey's mind! Her heart had forebodings she could not account for, as to the issue of this. She feared her premature illness, and her thoughts reverted with the deepest anxiety to her darling child. She had thought to have perceived, infant as she was, the seeds of early grace springing up in her little heart, and she had prayed unceasingly for, and watched and watered, with tenderest solicitude, this heavenly plant.
“Edith, my own Edith !” said Lady Grey, as she wished her little girl good-night, parting her hair off her face, and imprinting kiss after kiss on her smooth forehead. “Edith will never forget her hymns and prayers to 'Gentle Jesus,' who loved little children, and loves them to come to Him in prayer! My child will remember mamma's words, never to forget her Saviour, and all her readings in her Bible, and God will bless my child, my darling child! You may take Miss Edith away, nurse, but return to me quickly; I would say a few words to you."
"Your ladyship has, I fear, done too much today," said Budd, on her return to her mistress's presence.
“Perhaps I have a little, nurse," quietly returned Lady Grey. I wished to speak to you, Budd. Life is uncertain ; in the midst of it we are in death; more particularly in my situation! I may not recover; and I may-as the Lord, my gracious God, wills! But I believe you to be a Christian woman one who believes in the Lord Jesus. You have been a faithful attendant to Miss Edith since her birth, and have served me well. I would charge you, nurse, as you have seen my anxiety for my child's soul, as a first duty, never let her omit those things I have taught her ever to be uppermostnever let her forget her prayers, her hymns, and to read her Bible daily. Teach her, too, how very, very precious God's Word was to her poor mamma! I know I may rely on your following my wishes, and that you will take every care of my darling."
Nurse was too much affected by her ladyship’s words to say more than reiterate her devoted attachment to herself and little charge.
“I will now remain quite quiet," said Lady Grey. And nurse Budd left the apartment.
The next inorning the bells rang merrily in the village of Gainsborough; and on Edith's anxious inquiry as to the cause, she was told they rang to announce the birth of a little brother, but she could not see mamma for a few days—she was too ill.
The greatest joy prevailed at the Castle. But, alas! it was to be of short duration! How often is earthly joy turned into earthly sorrow! Before the morrow's sun had dawned, the lovely and amiable wife, the doting mother, and exemplary Christian, with her infant son, were no more !
In vain did Lord Grey, in his agony of grief, reproach himself, and the imprudent walk, as the cause. Even the doctors did not escape blame. His sorrow amounted almost to despair. It was impossible to realize his double bereavement !-grief, where there is no power of mitigation !-affliction, unaccompanied by resignation ! Who can fully describe the extreme bitterness of the blow to the desolate heart?
The unaffected piety of his departed wife's daily religion had, during the seven years of their married life, shed its sweet halo round Lord Grey, its influence ever swaying him. But the heart had remained unconverted, the will unsubdued, God's sovereignty unacknowledged ; and the stroke which now fell on him, snatching, in so unlooked for and unexpected a manner, a happiness never so fully realized as when the loved voice was silent for ever! The son and heir born, and taken, as it were, to mock his joy at the event_all, all was too stunning, too dreadful-nature rebelled !
Lady Grey's remains, with those of her infant son, were laid in the family vault. Lord Grey himself attended the last sad offices, but immediately after the funeral left Gainsborough, simply intimating his intention to be some weeks absent from home.
Poor Mrs. Livingstone was inexpressibly shocked, on her return from a visit she had been making, to hear of the melancholy event which had taken place
during her absence, robbing her of so kind a friend, and society of so estimable a member as Lady Grey. She lost no time in repairing to the Castle to see poor little Edith, and learn from nurse all the sad particulars. She brought little Minnie and Cecil to wish their young playfellow good-bye, as they were about to leave home and pass a short time with their mamma at Cambridge, with some of Mrs. Livingstone's relations. “Miss Edith will not remain here now, nurse,” said she (after having paid a somewhat lengthened visit to the nursery, the children having wandered away to look at some of Edith's treasures), “I suppose ? When is Lord Grey expected ?"
“ The dear child needs a change, ma'am. Mrs. Drummond, the housekeeper, was saying to-day, she supposed, when his lordship returned, Miss Edith would go to her dear ladyship's sister, Mrs. Montagu, for a time; but we know nothing yet, ma'am. I only hope I shall be permitted to remain with the dear child. Oh! what a change it is to us all ! what a sad change! and so sudden, ma'am! To think of her dear, sweet ladyship, being taken off! and all in such a moment, as it were! Such a kind mistress !-such a Christian lady, too !—it breaks one's heart to think of it!" And nurse fairly burst into tears.
Very mysterious are the Lord's dealings, nurse,' remarked Mrs. Livingstone, as she prepared to take her leave. “ This blow has been a very sudden one to us all! Your dear mistress was indeed a sweet